We just celebrated Mother’s Day, and it’s already time to start thinking about Father’s Day gifts! Don’t worry, I got you! Here are some ideas for the Sporty Dad, the Techie Dad, and the Beer-Nerd Dad.
Whether Dad needs to get in shape, or just spend some quality time outdoors, these gifts will help him do just that.
1. This compact and adjustable NordicTrack Dumbbells set delivers the same value as 30 individual dumbbells in a fraction of the space.
2. Every Dad needs a cornhole setfor all those backyard BBQs!
3. Spruce up your dad’s home bar with some sports fan art!I have many different paintings at my Etsy shop featuring various teams and beer combos.
1. For a Dad who can use some peace and quiet to listen to his favorite podcast, get him these Bose Headphones.
People have been celebrating Star Wars on May 4th since Margaret Thatcher was elected Prime Minister of England on May 4th, 1979. The next day her political party placed an ad in the newspaper that included the phrase, “May the Fourth Be With You, Maggie. Congratulations.” Today I woke up to see my friends posting Star Wars memes on my personal chats and social media. I have loved Star Wars since I was 5 years old, which means people had been celebrating this informal holiday six years before I had even seen Star Wars: A New Hope. I remember watching it for the first time at Grandma’s house. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time! Later I watched episode 4, 5, and 6 over an over, until I could recite all the dialogue. It was an obsession, I think not uncommon for many of us Star Wars nerds.
I have painted many Star Wars parodies over the years, and just recently painted a few new ones for Arctic Comicon, which is this Saturday and Sunday at Dena’ina Center. The convention center will fill up with Mandalorians toting little Grogus, anime cosplayers, Marvel super heroes, and even the Black Power Ranger will be in attendance! If you stop by my booth, you can see my two new Star Wars parodies there, and purchase the originals, or prints. I also have several other cool parodies, including Mario riding a moose, and Tetris bricks loading into a truck bed.
Cheers to us nerds who can’t get enough pop-culture! See you at Arctic Comicon!
A couple weeks ago I got a DM from a stranger on Instagram who asked if I’m available to do a commissioned portrait of her granddaughter. No red flags here, because I get messages like this on a regular basis, and most of the time a brief exchange on Instagram leads to a sale, and we go from there. Social media is the best thing that ever happened for artists!
I replied with my standard explanation of how commissions work, and a list of available sizes and prices. She then told me she loves my artwork and asked for the oil painting to be on canvas. Everything sounded legit this far. Then the first red flag popped up in my head when she asked for the size to be 50×70cm. My customers normally use inches or feet, so I asked where she lives, to make sure it’s a country to which I can reliably mail a painting at a reasonable price. She tells me she lives in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Then she proceeds to send me four pictures of a girl, presumably her granddaughter (this is why you should think twice about posting pics of your kids on the Internet).
After a brief exchange, we agree on a size, and I tell her how much the painting will cost, and she asks when the artwork will be available. I answer her question, and then send her different payment options for the deposit, including a link to my PayPal page. She then asks for my PayPal e-mail and name, and says that she’ll send me payment right away, so I send her the link to my PayPal again. She says it isn’t going through, and sends me an image of this: ▶️ Play, but I can’t click on it (red flag #2). She asks for my PayPal e-mail and name a second time. This is when my instinct started putting the breaks on this whole deal, but I gave her the benefit of a doubt. So I clicked on the PayPal link that I had sent her, and it worked, and I ask her what the problem is on her end. She says she already showed me. I reply that the photo didn’t come through, and she asks for my PayPal e-mail and name again, sounding a bit demanding (red flag #3).
This is when I decided to Google ways that people can scam you if they have your PayPal e-mail and name, and turns out that this is a very popular way for scammers to get into your PayPal account. So I took a closer look at her profile, and noticed that her name was spelled Slyvia, a very unusual way to spell Sylvia (red flag #4), and her profile picture was of an older woman with a girl in her lap, and they are both wearing masks. She had 0 posts, no followers, but had followed 200+ accounts (red flag #5). There were several typos in her messages (red flag #6). My next move was to block her account, and report it to Instagram.
That’s six red flags, before I definitively decided to put an end to the conversation. Why did it take so many red flags? Well, what if this was a legit inquiry from an older person who is not familiar with Instagram and PayPal? I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. Also, I didn’t want to miss out on a potential sale. I’m really glad that I decided to listen to my instinct. If I had been desperate for income, I think I may have been tempted to crawl further into that rabbit hole. The frustrating thing is that artists can be such an easy target, and scammers know this. Whenever I hear of an artist getting scammed, I feel very frustrated. We put our heart and soul into our work, and hope to make a living from doing so, and people who prey on artists are just the worst.
Have you ever bought something on eBay using the “Buy it Now” feature? You might feel like you are paying more, but you don’t have to wait, and you don’t have to risk someone else buying the item. Maybe the bids will price the item higher than the “Buy It Now” feature, and you’ll end up getting a bad deal. Buying artwork is very much the same way. I am often pulled aside at one of my art shows, and asked in a quiet way if it would be better to wait until the show comes down to purchase the art directly from me, that way I get a higher percentage of the overall price. My answer is always, “If you love it, and you want it, buy it now through the venue.”
When I hang artwork at a gallery, brewery or coffee shop, I am working with that venue as a partner. I want to be invited to have art shows there again, and I also want that business to succeed. Rent, employees, and other overhead costs are part of the reason I pay a commission to the “house”. They sell my art for me, so I don’t have to be there in person to sell it myself. Galleries would not be able to exist without their cut of the sale. Breweries and coffee shops have a pretty fine margin, and selling artwork helps supplement the high costs of paying employees and buying ingredients. Galleries curate artists, which may seem as easy as approaching one and asking to be represented, but there are actually a lot of artists competing for a limited amount of wall space. The galleries will represent the artists who sell more work, and reject the ones whose artwork stagnates. Please buy directly from the venue, it helps me get more space on the walls, and leads to more solo shows. As Dos Manos always says, “higher tides float all boats.”
The times to approach me to buy directly from me is if you see the piece on the Internet and want a more personal experience than buying it online. In that case, you can schedule a studio visit. Also, if you want a special piece made just for you, or if you saw a piece that has already sold at a venue and want a similar one, or if I am not currently showing anywhere and you want to buy artwork you previously saw at a venue. Don’t wait to ensure that I get a larger cut of the profits. While I do appreciate the sentiment, I prefer that you have instant gratification of owning that piece that caught your eye. I wouldn’t show my artwork at a venue that I didn’t think was a fair deal. If you wait, there is a chance the piece might sell to someone else.
The moment you are inspired to buy artwork is a special thing, if you wait until later you may not have that same feeling. Your wall will possibly stay unadorned, and it can become a constant thing on the back burner of your mind. Meanwhile, the piece of art sits in a cabinet unseen and waiting to find its final home. My goal as an artist is to see all my pieces find good homes, where they will be properly taken care of, and valued by the patron. When pieces leave the studio to good homes, that inspires me to make more art. When I bring home a lot of pieces at the end of an art show, I also consider not showing at that place again. So don’t delay, “Buy it Now,” you won’t regret it, and I will applaud your decisive decision to be a patron of my artwork!
So, where can you currently buy my art in person? This blog post was written on March 23, 2023.
Maria and I are at the cabin in McCarthy this week, and it has been a dream. This is not always the case when adventuring in the WRST (Wrangell-St. Elias) National Park in the winter. We have been here when we have had a cold (virus). We have been here when we thought we were not going to be able to drive out, because it snowed so much. We have cancelled many trips, because the weather forecast and our work schedule didn’t align. I would schedule a time when I didn’t have a lot of work, and then a blizzard would start up after we were already packed and ready to drive out to McCarthy. The thing about McCarthy is that it’s a long drive of 310 miles one way, and the McCarthy Road is no joke in the winter. It can vary from being a two lane ice highway, to just two ruts in ten inches of packed ice and crusty snow. Tire chains are a must-have, and it is a good idea to have a reliable 4WD vehicle with 10 inches of clearance. I will not drive out to the cabin in a winter blizzard, I’ll drive back to Anchorage in one, but not out here, just to get stuck for an unknown amount of time. We haven’t made it here in the snow season since spring of 2020.
Maria and I recently purchased a 2023 Ski-Doo Expedition Sport 600 ACE, and we love this transportation device! It has made winter cabin life way safer, easier and more fun. We have been here without a snowmachine (snowmobile, or sled for people not from Alaska) and the amount of time spent hauling water to the cabin was notable. With our new “sled”, transportation around the area has been a breeze, and hauling our stuff to the cabin, including water, now takes a fraction of the time.
We have a 10-acre lot here, and we put our cabin right in the middle of it to be further from the trail/road for privacy. Nobody had been here since fall. I had to break trail through 4 feet of packed sugar snow. First, we unhitched the sled load, and immediately got stuck, almost rolling the snowmachine on its side. I was able to back out to the road with some vigorous shoveling. We then strapped on our XC skis and broke a trail-loop to the cabin from the the road to the front door. About this time, Jason Lobo showed up (he lives past us, about a mile up the trail). Jason was full of good ideas and pointers to get me and my stuff to my doorstep. However, I didn’t put them to very good use, and got stuck about 50 feet in. Jason took the handlebars and drove the last 200 feet of the trail, and Maria rewarded him with a beer for his efforts. I then practiced driving around the still soft trail about four times before re-hitching the load and bringing it in to the cabin. I really need to practice driving in deep snow.
Yesterday was a bluebird day, and we met up with our buddy Matt Empt and his dog Duncan. We drove the sled to Kennicott and picnicked behind the power plant. Duncan ran and alternately rode with Matt on his vintage Yamaha Bravo 250. The views were spectacular! The WRST park is a feast for the eyes! We then went down the hill to play on the glacier lake where we towed Matt around on his alpine skis, and I practiced driving in the deep stuff. I got stuck a few times and I figured out how to ride in the powder a bit better. The thing is, the snow is not really completely powder, it is an accumulation of many storms, and the layers are inconsistent — a bit of crust mixed into the sugary stuff beneath. It makes it really easy to bog down if you don’t keep up your speed. We had a great time, and then we rode back to the cabin.
We love being at the cabin, and a vacation at your other home is a wonderful way to go. Building a cabin is no joke, and buying one can be pretty expensive as well. But it sure makes a vacation simple. You have all you stuff there, and you don’t have to make a lodging reservation at a VRBO, or wherever. There is no host to have to communicate with, and when you leave, the cleanup is all your own. Using a wood stove is about as much a learning experience as using a snowmachine, but when it is your own, it makes it that much easier. Relaxation is at a high compared to previous trips here in the winter, and I think mostly that is due to the new sled. It feels safer to have a reliable mode of transport up and down the hill to the truck, and possibly all the way to Chitina. Life is good! Live it well!
The Kansas City Chiefs won Super Bowl LVII (for those of you who are not so good with roman numerals), that is Super Bowl 57 in 2023. I am sad for all my friends who are Eagles supporters, but maybe they can win again at another time. Instead, we celebrate the KC’s victory with a painting of the Kansas City Chiefs on their home turf, GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium.
Where were you when the Super Bowl was on television? I know that one of my friends was at the game. I bet a lot of you boycotted this pillar of American culture and went outside to do something interesting like skiing, skating, or fat-biking. I used to do that: watch about 15 minutes of the game, catch the halftime show, eat a plate of nachos, some wings, chips, and whatever, then go outside and do something fun. But now I like watching the game. In fact, I watched almost all the playoff games and a lot of the Monday, Thursday, and Sunday regular season games. I don’t follow any specific team, but normally root for good football. I like to watch the athletes do amazing things, and I like the sound of the crowd getting all excited about the sport. I do enjoy the commercials during the Super Bowl and the halftime show. My favorite halftime show was Lady Gaga in 2017. There have been so many good shows, it is hard to remember them all.
This year I was on a roadtrip to visit my grandma and my uncle in eastern Washington. I spent Saturday in Walla Walla, Washington with my grandma, she is 90 years old! We then drove to Pullman, to visit my 96-year-old uncle. My uncle was hosting a party for the Super Bowl and had invited over three other guests. The food was good and the excitement was there! I was most happy that the game was close and not boring. The Super Bowl menu at my uncle’s party included: ribs, potato salad, baked beans, potato chips, and a superb tray cake for desert. We were all skiers, so the cake celebrated that sport. It was a pretty good spread.
I had a lot of discussion about which beer to put in this painting. I thought maybe a Boulevard Brewing beer, but I saw that most people drank Goose Island IPA at GEHA Field. So, I thought I should leave it up to imagination. You have whatever beer you want, and I put it in a Kansas City Chiefs cup that you would get at the stadium.
Both teams were very good this year and it was a great show. The Eagles played very hard, but Coach, Andy Reid, played it super cool running down the clock and putting it all on the line as Harrison Butker nailed the field goal with only 8 seconds left on the clock. Making it virtually impossible for the Eagles to comeback. Raise your glass not only to the KC Chiefs, but to the great sport of American Football! Cheers!
This original oil painting, and signed prints are available at my Etsy shop.
I was at Anchorage Brewing Company vending artwork when Iron Dog racer, Mike Morgan, came up to talk to me about my paintings. We had a long chat, and he told me all about racing to Nome on Polaris sleds. The Iron Dog is a high speed trail race using two-stroke, air-cooled, high performance motors. I told him I just sold my old 1993 Polaris Indy Lite 340 and was in the market for a 2-up trail sled. 2-up doesn’t mean you have two extra lives in Super Mario Brothers, but that two people can safely ride the ATV. We discussed snowmachines, or snowmobiles for those of you who live anywhere but Alaska. We also discussed the market for making paintings with snowmobile/snowmachine themes. I wanted a sled that we could use to get to our cabin in the winter and haul supplies and water, but also get out on the trails, and maybe even ride part of the Iditarod trail.
I went into Alaska Mining and Diving, the Ski-Doo dealer here in Anchorage, and asked about ordering a 2023 Ski-Doo Expedition Sport. They pretty much laughed at me and said that it takes a year to get a new machine, and to stop back in February when they signed people up for next year’s models. Well, a few weeks ago I figured I should stop back in and see if they had changed the dates, and if the sales plan was the same. It was my lucky day, because an Expedition Sport had just arrived, and the man who ordered it last year was unable to obtain financing. I thought about it, and came back and purchased the snowmobile.
I will call them snowmobiles from now on. Alaskans call them snowmachines, or sleds, but not snowmobiles. But, if you search the Internet for snowmachine, you don’t get many posts, except for Alaskan ones. The whole world calls these ATVs snowmobiles. My new owner’s manual refers to it as a snowmobile on almost every page. So, to be most accurate I will refer to it as a snowmobile. As I type right now, snowmobile is a recognizable word on my computer, while snowmachine is highlighted as a misspelled word. If you refer to a snowmobile as a snowmachine anywhere else in the world, people think you’re talking about a snowmaking device for ski areas, or a snowblower. If you say snowmobile in Alaska, people ask you where you’re from.
I have a brand new Ski-Doo with less than nine miles on it, and I want to take it out and get some pictures of Alaska. Maria left town last week and I took the snowmobile out for its very first ride. I went four miles before I tipped it over, and it was really hard to flip back over by myself. So after righting the sled, I turned back around and snowmobiled to my truck. When Maria gets back, we are going to ride at Big Lake to practice some more. I also want to go to Willow and drive the Iditarod trail, and explore around Wrangell-St. Elias NP. We also have plans to ride to Knik and Spencer Glaciers to take pictures of snowmobiles at glaciers. What I don’t want to do is go to the top of steep mountains and risk getting buried in an avalanche. I have a trail sled with 60 horsepower that probably won’t go up a mountain anyway, but it does have a hitch for towing, and I want to go expeditioning! I plan to make some paintings along the way. I can totally carry painting supplies to our cabin, as well as food and water now. Let’s get out in the winter and have a good time!
Alaskans love beer, and we have some pretty great ales, lagers and barley-wine here in the Greatland! Alaska Beer Week is this week, culminating in the Alaska Craft Brew & Barley Wine Festival on Friday and Saturday. I am lucky enough to get to vend my beer art at this event, and I hope to see you there. You probably already know that during Alaska Beer Week, Alaska hosts beer events at restaurants, bars and brewery tasting rooms. What you probably didn’t know is that the best beer event is hosted at 49th State Brewing by the Great Northern Brewers Club.
The GNBC is a homebrew club in Anchorage Alaska, and was founded in 1980. It is hard to believe this club is as old as I am! The GNBC mission statement is: to educate people about beer, beer tasting, beer judging, and brewing techniques based on shared knowledge and experience. To engage in enjoyable social activities focused on home-brewing as a common foundation. To promote the hobby and enjoyment of home-brewing. To promote the responsible use of alcoholic beverages.
The best part about the club is the January monthly meeting during Alaska Beer Week, which is also known as the “Industry Meeting.” This meeting is a mini beerfest in itself, held at the theater at 49th State Brewing. A keynote speaker is invited to speak, and I’ve listened to some great brewers from famous commercial breweries in the past including: Ken Grossman (Sierra Nevada), Greg Koch (Stone Brewing), Jeff Lebesch & Kim Jordan (New Belgium Brewing), Geoff Larson (Alaskan Brewing), Jerry Vietz (Unibroue), John Maier (Rogue Ales), and many others. There are a lot of complimentary commercial and home-brewed samples, enough that you should arrange transport other than driving yourself, since you will not be legal to drive after this event. There’s also a great spread of food from the kitchen at 49th State Brewing. Not to mention, a great amount of door prizes that are available if you donate to the club for drawing tickets. Overall, I like this event more than the beer festival itself, because you get to find out why people are wearing chicken necklaces at the beer festival (Phil the chicken guy is almost always in attendance), and you will get to meet the brewers from around the State if you are a social person.
There are a number of reasons to join this club, especially if you love making and drinking beer, mead, cider and other fermented alcoholic beverages. First, you get 10% off at La Bodega, and 10% off at ingredients at Arctic Brewing Supply. Then there’s the December meeting, which is a holiday party that is almost as good as the January meeting. There is a campout in the summer with free camping spots at an amazing campground (it changes yearly). The reasons keep going. You can sign up to become a certified BJCP judge (Beer Judge Certification Program), and participate in the numerous home-brew contests throughout the year. And lastly, this is a great group of people that like to have fun and be social! It was tough through the pandemic, but we survived by drinking socially over Zoom, although it wasn’t the same! We are back, baby! Get your membership and come on down to hang out at 49th State with one of the funnest clubs in Alaska!
Cheers to beers and the GNBC!
Here are some photos from previous January industry meetings: Jerry Vietz from Unibroue with Maria, beard twinsies with John Maier from Rogue Ales, and a photo of the meeting hall.
Yesterday was a great day to go to the south-side of town to grab a beer at Midnight Sun Brewing and Turnagain Brewing. My art show is up at MSBC for the month of January, and yesterday the brewery busted out dusty bottles of Sloth Belgian-style Imperial Stout from 2017! For those in the know, Sloth is one of the best beers MSBC has ever made. A Russian imperial stout that was originally brewed as part of the Seven Deadly Sins series in 2007. The brewery hasn’t brewed it since 2017! Sloth has a rating of 95 on Beer Advocate and is rated as the 90th best Russian Imperial Stout in the United States! It is big, bold, dark, black, and has a nice Belgian yeast note to it. If there is any left on draft today, I would get on down there and get a glass. If not, you can always find something noteworthy from the big offerings from MSBC. I made this painting of Sloth in 2016 and it immediately sold. Limited edition prints are available at my Etsy shop. If you prefer an original oil painting, rather than a print, I can paint a custom one for you.
Meanwhile, right down the street, an amazing sour beer called Solera Eclipse was released today at Turnagain Brewing! Since Maria and I are in the Mug Club at Turnagain, we had the opportunity to stop by to get first dibs on this amazing beer yesterday. It is a pineapple and blueberry sour that originally was brewed in summer 2021 and was released in early November 2021. Every year there is a contest called the Turnagain Tartside Challenge, and Anchorage home-brewers come by Turnagain Brewing to get a gallon of mostly fermented sour wort from the Solera. The idea is to flavor, finish, and package the wort to make a delicious beer. In 2021 I was the winner of this contest with the concept behind Solera Eclipse. Ted Rosenzweig (owner and brewer at Turnagain Brewing) and I conferred, and I designed a label, and Ted packaged the beer for individual bottle sales. It has to be one of the tastiest sour beers I have ever had, and today it is released again. At $7 for a 12oz pour or $7 for 12oz bottles to go, it is a good deal. My original recipe called for a whole pineapple and 1lb of blueberries per gallon! Little to say, the fruit in this beer is very expensive, and I am unsure how much profit can be made when using so much fruit here in Alaska! I have included a picture of Ted stealing a sample from the barrel on Halloween in 2021. I wanted to show off my original label and bottle design, because the packaging is different this year. The pineapple brings the flavor, and the blueberries bring some aroma, and a great color!
Anchorage is a great beer drinking town and I hope you brave the cold to get out to one of our lovely brewery destinations to revere our beer! Cheers to beers brewed in the North!